Solo at the Red Sun
On the way to Calvin, I temporarily lost a necklace. I'd gone through security, laid the jewelry on my jacket, and put both into a gray plastic tub to send them through the x-ray machine. After walking through the metal detector, I began chatting with one of the security people while I tried to reassemble my belongings and get dressed again (it feels like one has to undress these days to walk through security!).
About 10 minutes later, after I'd settled into eating yogurt with strawberries while waiting to board, I saw a woman waving a necklace around, "Did anybody leave a necklace?!"
I retrieved it.
When I am distracted by conversation, I clearly lose track of details. But when I am alone, they press in from every side. Being alone, then, is a special gift...though it may not feel that way at the time.
Today I offer two poems from my gift of going solo to the Red Sun Buffet. Arriving a day early for the Calvin conference always means I'll be eating alone. I consider, in retrospect, that this set me up for a few days of keen awareness of details; it also meant that my singleness made me more connected to the longing that seemed inherent in the waitress and the buffet setting itself...
"Solo at the Red Sun Buffet"
Signs: sushi, grill, barb-q,
in green, orange neon.
Trill and hum of fridges
ovens, clack of friers.
Red crustaceans stacked
near fried rice, their eyes
black and fixed, like the gaze
of the leaning waitress; silent
in faux pink silk, she follows
every sip of my hot and sour,
each bite into my slight,
stale spring roll.
When I finished with my odd buffet (I ate things I don't usually eat— shrimp, chocolate pudding, fried rice— along with things I generally do... salad, green beans, tofu, soup), the waitress who had spent her time watching me brought the check and one fortune cookie. Upon reading the fortune, I immediately decided there was a poem in it. And there was a bit of prophecy too, as the days to follow would confirm...
"Fortune at the Red Sun Buffet"
will now come your way.
Tomorrow I'll begin to consider the flip side of going solo. Since a conference also offers the gift of connection.